This study tested a multivariate model, which included peer influences, religiosity, personality traits, school experiences, and family characteristics, in predicting juvenile delinquency. The model compared two samples of youth belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S.). A mail questionnaire and three follow-up mailings were sent to 1,078 youth living in the Pacific Northwest and 1,849 youth living in Utah county. The overall response rate for the sample was 63 percent. Extensive measures were used in assessing the variables included in the model. Structural equation modeling (LISREL) was used in the analysis because of its capacity to assess measurement error as well as to test the hypothesized direct and indirect effects of family characteristics. The results indicated that peer pressure is the strongest predictor of delinquency. Moreover, even after controlling for peer influences, internalized religiosity had a significant negative association with delinquent involvement. Personality traits, school experiences, and several of the family variables, such as family structure, family conflict, and maternal employment, did not prove to be significant predictors of delinquency after control for the other variables in the model. While no significant direct effects were found, family characteristics did strongly predict delinquency indirectly through heightening levels of youth's religiosity, protecting against peer pressure, and encouraging the selection of non-delinquent peers. Furthermore, gender and religious ecology differences were found in predicting delinquency.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Juvenile delinquency, United States, Mormon youth, Peer pressure in adolescence, Teenagers, Religious life